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Notorious tribute party grows even B.I.G.ger 

3rd annual event pays homage to one of hip-hops finest

A. King Allah, the man behind two of Charlotte's most beloved golden age hip-hop parties, Off the Wall and Memory Lane, is solidifying his rep as a boom bap apostle with "Francis: The Notorious B.I.G. Tribute Vol. 3" day party. He risked life and limb (on the phone while driving) to break down why with Creative Loafing.

Creative Loafing: The Notorious B.I.G. died in 1997. So why are we just now on Vol. 3 of the Tribute? Shouldn't this be Volume 17?

A. King Allah: It's actually just my second year with it. But it's Charlotte's third. Last year, Ndelo [of DRCApeParel, the partner promoters] and I were talking about collaborating. He had done it the year before at someone's club, and then we ended up having it at dupp&swat. It was unbelievable.

And last year was themed Unbelievable, right?

Yes. It was packed out, but we had to work out an alcohol arrangement with Red@28th [the lounge and hookah bar next door]. This year, we have Remy Martin as our alcohol sponsor, so we're just having it all in one place.

So this year is themed Francis. Which is kind of a feminine name for a guy to me, but I'd never say that to B.I.G.'s face, rest his soul. What's the significance there?

The type of person he was, for me, I felt his loyalty to his family and friends is something you rarely see. Lil' Cease said, in the Biggie documentary, that he didn't write none of them shits on Junior Mafia. Biggie wrote it all. A man who'll take his family and friends with him to success has a lot of character.

Do you think he'd still be rapping if he'd somehow dodged those four shots?

He would probably have excelled in another venue, like acting. He was a real ill entrepreneur, the way he marketed Lil' Kim and Junior Mafia.

Some say his beef with Tupac got him killed, though that's never been confirmed. If he was around today, do you think he'd be beefing on Twitter like Wayne and some others?

I don't think so. The way he handled his industry beef was real intelligent and comedic. He didn't come at 'Pac that same way [Tupac came at him]. He joked about it on "Brooklyn's Finest": 'If Fay' had twins, she'd probably have Tupac's...' He always said slick stuff that went over people's heads.

Do you remember where you were when you got the news he was gone?

I was 24 when he died; I was making a payment at a beeper spot — remember when we had beepers?

— and a young lady was in there going off, like 'I'm glad that fat ass is dead, he killed Tupac, etc.' And I was just like, wow. That was a huge blow to the hip-hop community, losing those two at the top of their game. He never got to feel the success of Life After Death with touring, album sales.

He was unbelievably gifted. But do you think some of the negativity he put in his verses, even on a karmic scale, had a hand in his death?

I do notice some rappers and hip-hop icons are able to go places and talk to all kinds of people unscathed because of the content they put out there. Like Chuck D and Flava Flav; in Long Island I'd see them talking to people even at the bus stop, all the time. Most Long Island rappers don't go to that place, like De La and Rakim. It's more about creating and elevating than speaking on that side of our expeience. You put certain words out there, saying you do certain things, someone will certainly approach you because they are living that reality and wanna see if you're living it, too.

The party features theturntable techniques of DJ Shakim, from World Famous Super Friends and BBD. 4-9 p.m. Saturday, March 8 at Empire Lounge, 130 W. Summit Ave. For more information, go to www.BIGTribute.Eventbrite.com.

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